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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

System officials: UW should not fear Doyle plan

Many UW System employees are probably safe from state Attorney General Jim Doyle's campaign promise to cut more than 10,000 state positions, according to UW System personnel.  




While under Doyle's plan the system would face some cuts, his proposal is not aimed at the universities, according to Doyle spokesperson John Kraus. Doyle's proposal would cut the number of state employees back to the level it was when former Gov. Tommy Thompson began his first term in 1987. However, the number of state employees at the UW System has reportedly not grown since then. University officials credit their efficiency. 




\We're probably one of the most efficient systems in the country. That doesn't leave much room for cuts,"" UW System Board of Regent Vice President Toby Marcovich said.  




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For example, the system, which employs almost half of all state employees, only spends about half as much on administration costs as its peers across the country, according to the Board of Regents. In addition, the board has taken several steps to increase efficiency since 1996.  




""I doubt [Doyle] would take any action without some serious consultation,"" Marcovich said. ""I doubt very much, very many, if any, UW System employees would be affected by it."" 




John Torphy, vice chancellor of administration at UW-Madison, said he is also unsure where cuts would be made. Torphy added the only growth in employment at UW-Madison is in federal and gift-funded positions, and therefore it is hard to tell what the effect on the UW System would be until Doyle is more specific. 




Kraus said the exact figures in the plan would not be available until after Doyle was elected. 




""We have nowhere to go but to reduce the size of state government,"" he said. ""A large number of this should be able to be done through attrition."" 




Doyle's proposal would cut 11,700 jobs by 2010 and will take advantage of employees reaching retirement age. The number of full-time state workers reaching retirement age is around 40 percent, which includes several UW faculty members, according to a recent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article. 




Kraus said Doyle hopes his plan will create a more effective state work force and keep taxes from rising, despite the mixed reviews it has received from state employees' organizations. While Doyle is endorsed by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and the Services Employees International Union, he is not supported by the state employees union, AFSCME Council 24. 




Despite the varying levels of support, Marcovich and Torphy said they feel the proposal will not be a factor for UW system employees when deciding whether to support Doyle for governor. Torphy said UW employees would make their decision based on many factors important to them, including the proposal.  




""Employees in the system will decide how to vote in the end,"" Torphy said.

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